2 hours ago
Friday, June 17, 2011
Now The Real Work Begins (Part 1)
Honestly for both teams the picture remains just as fuzzy since their seasons ended and most likely will remain that way until it is their turn to make their selection in the 1st round.
For Garth Snow, he has it easy due to having the 5th pick in the draft as right now the only roadblock to getting Dougie Hamilton is what will New Jersey do at 4?
Of course just seeing New Jersey with a lottery pick is so out of character but Hamilton being out there when the Devils come up to pick is going to be very hard for them to resist.
Doing Mock Drafts really are something that we try to avoid here because it just takes one trade or one team reaching for a player then the whole draft is turned upside down. And it is really going to be interesting to see if so many NHL teams go for all the QMJHL prospects who are sitting at the top of the draft.
Nobody wants to say it aloud but you will see NHL GMs try not to take QMJHLs in the first round as Glen Sather is not the only one who avoids picking QMJHLers. It is a perception thing just like Americans have their own stereotypes like North and South.
And honestly who here really thinks that Edmonton is going not take the kid who plays less than 2 hours away in Red Deer? Seriously Edmonton passing on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be a huge PR disaster for a team wanting to build a new arena in Edmonton.
That leaves Colorado who has the #2 and #11 picks in this year's draft so they can do many things but teams that are built smartly do it with the blueline which is why Adam Larsson is who they grab.
As much as you think Colorado would like to dump the Stastny contract on somebody else if they did they would come then they would find themselves close to being under the NHL salary cap minimum. Colorado has 9 players on Restricted Free Agent Status and 4 players who are set to become Unrestricted Free Agents so they actually need Stastny to avoid the risk of violating the CBA.
At 3 is Florida who are in need of everything, are a huge mess and they have to spend money as right off the bat they are at 18.9 million on July 1 which puts them in trouble with the CBA. The Panthers had 3 first round picks and could turn this pick into 2 first rounders by looking at Ottawa or Toronto.
Ottawa might want to jump up to grab Jonathan Huberdeau but no matter who has the pick that is who goes here. Florida would still be wiser to move the pick but if they did it might toss more gasoline on their being the next NHL team in danger of relocating.
(That is your cue to start with the Jim Balsille's "if he plays by the rules then the 3rd time is a charm" rumor you know)
At 4 are the Devils and like we said how strange it is to find them at 4 and while Dougie Hamilton is a very tempting pick, the Devils have even less than the Rangers up front so they have no choice but look offense.
Gabriel Landeskog is the better player who some are comparing to Daniel Alfredsson but Lou has a thing for size so he goes for 6'4 Sean Couturier who is coming off back to back 96 point seasons. Which now puts Garth Snow in a sweet position as Ottawa is right behind him at 6.
If I am Garth Snow I pick up the phone and look Ottawa's GM Brian Murray dead in the eye and play Clint Eastwood with him. You know Eastwood as in "Do you feel lucky?" Snow knows that Murray is badly wanting Landeskog for that very reason of the Alfredsson comparison.
Snow has 9 draft picks in the 2011 draft and he has been signing several of his prospects so he can drop down in the first round and pick up even more picks or even a player. If Snow does stay here then Dougie Hamilton is a no-brainer as the 6'3 defender is the best 2 way defender in the draft.
Brian Murray who has aged 10 years thanks to Garth Snow's threats to move the 5th pick does not wait as he runs up to the podium and selects Landeskog. Murray knows this pick quite well since Landeskog spent last year in the OHL with the Kitchner Rangers so he makes his owner a happy camper with the pick too.
At 7 is Winnipeg as the former Atlanta Thrashers are bringing some good young talent as it is but True North wants to make a statement. Their new GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is unknown to NHL fans but not to the scouting world as he is viewed as a very bright thinker.
Winnipeg wants to keep the good feeling going so they pull the first "reach" as they select Duncan Siemens a 6'3 defenseman. It is not a reach as the Saskatoon Blade is a very mobile defender who fits in with what Winnipeg already has but also brings some toughness to the blueline.
8 is the Columbus Bluejackets and if you thought Duncan Siemens was a surprise wait until Scott Howson selects Sven Bartschi of the Portland Winterhawks. Yes while everyone is trashing this move, Howson knows it is the right move as he puts Bartschi with last year's #4 pick Ryan Johansen who is Bartschi's teammate in Portland.
Bartschi was ranked 7th in the CSB but that was a ranking that came out before Bartschi's playoff run. Bartschi was Portland's best player in the WHL players, better than Johansen and Nino Niederreiter as Bartschi was Portland's offense in the WHL finals with 5 goals.
These eyes watched Bartschi all season long and you wish to trash a prospsect who's longest scoreless drought was 2 games? You want to trash a prospect who has one hell of a vision on the ice?
When Ryan Strome was being shut down by Mississauga, while Kootenay shut down Niederreiter there was no stopping Bartschi who's play got better the deeper in the playoffs Portland went.
This is a player who works his butt off at both ends of the ice and not once did we see him take a night off. We repeat this was Portland's best player in the WHL finals better than Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter and Scott Howson knows it.
The Boston Bruins thanks to the Phil Kessel deal have the 9th pick and they are going to grab Nathan Beaulieu the 6'3 defender of the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Bruins have plenty of young talent up front but Chara is 34 so they can make this pick and let Beaulieu develop with little pressure to produce right away.
The hosts of the 2011 draft the Minnesota Wild are 10th and they are not afraid to draft Europeans in the first round which is why they pick Mika Zibanejad of Sweden a 6'1 center. The 2nd ranked European from CSB is a lot like the Ranger's Tim Erixon a boy who's already playing against grown men.
If you do not know who he is then you will as he is yet another in a series of outstanding young Swedish prospects. Soft hands with great vision as well as strongly schooled in the basic hockey fundamentals and even better not afraid to get into the physical battles. The hometown Wild fans will boo the pick as they wanted Mark McNeill.
11 is Colorado's 2nd first round pick and while Av's fans are chanting for Ryan Murphy who is the offensive whiz on the blueline they need more help up front. Ryan Strome is there but he is the 2011 Cam Fowler as whispers about not handling physical play are going to come up.
Colorado decides to make Minnesota's evening that much worse by selecting Mark McNeill of the Prince Albert Raiders. McNeill is a 6'2 center who raised his stock with a great end of season run scoring in 14 out of his last 15 regular season games as well as a solid performance against Saskatoon in the WHL playoffs.
(And at the same time we can hear Ranger fans crying about this pick as well)
Carolina last year went against the experts and took Jeff Skinner which worked out even better than anyone expected. So at 12, Carolina goes for another gamble as Ryan Murphy is there and if he was 6'2 then he would have been gone by the 2nd pick.
Murphy is only 5'10 but he plays bigger and smarter as he reminds people of Mike Green with a better skill set and very much the kind of player you want quarterbacking a power play. Murphy does not get enough credit for his work on the defensive side but he makes up for his lack of size with a combination of great quickness and the ability to read plays like a general does a battlefield.
If you did not get the hint, this is a very good pick for the Canes.
No sooner than Murphy leaves the stage than the Wild fans will begin booing which means it is the Calgary Flame's turn to pick. Ranger fans on the other hand are sending thank you cards for the generous present of Tim Erixon.
Calgary can not seem to decide whether or not to rebuild but this franchise in heading in the wrong direction. They are aging fast and if this franchise does not watch out they could find themselves in the running for the first pick in the 2012 draft.
If the Calgary Flames did the smart thing then they would pick Vladislav Namestnikov who really is not getting the respect he should be. Yes he is skinny so leave him in the OHL for another year and send him to the gym to bulk up.
Hate Dale Hunter the NHL player but give him credit for knowing talent as this kid has all the makings of a very good playmaker. And if you play for Hunter you better play defense or else.
If there was ever a good guy who is in a really bad spot it is Dallas Star GM Joe Nieuwendyk, he does not have a coach, does not have an owner and one week after the draft is not going to have Brad Richards or even a job himself when next season rolls along.
Whatever curse Sean Avery placed on this franchise was really good as not even the team's website works. How scary a thought it is that Thomas Hicks does the impossible and makes the Dolan family look like great owners.
Dallas is in a no-win position here but they badly need help up front so Nieuwendyk goes for a bit of a reach and takes the third Saint John Sea Dog in center Zach Phillips. Phillips is not a franchise player that Dallas needs but he offers the potential to be an Adam Oates type player.
He needs to work on his body as well as getting quicker but he offers a very high hockey IQ and Dallas is going to get a honest day's effort every night from Phillips.
Which brings us to the 15th pick of the first round and with it the New York Rangers select (to be continued tomorrow)
(Garth Snow courtesy of the New York Islanders)
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